Is it Ever a Good Idea to Refuse a Test if You are Pulled Over for DUI?

On behalf of The Law Offices of Eric J. Burch, P.C. posted in Blog on Monday, May 15, 2018.

If you get pulled over in Tennessee for driving under the influence (DUI) and the officer asks you to take a test to prove how much you have had to drink, what should you do? That is a question that many people ask. Do you have to submit yourself to a breath, urine, or blood test? What happens if you refuse to take the test?

What is Implied Consent?

Under Tennessee law, drivers are required to take a breath, urine, or blood test if they are stopped for a DUI. If an offer has probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and arrests you, then you must take a breath, urine, or blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) . The officer may ask you to take more than one test and can choose which test or tests to make you take.

Refusing a Test Comes with Penalties

Because of the implied consent laws in Tennessee, you cannot refuse to take a test without penalties . When you are arrested, the officer should inform you that if you refuse the test your license will be suspended.

If your license is already suspended because you were involved in an accident that you caused, and it resulted in injuries or death to other people, the refusal with have even heavier penalties. If you are convicted of DUI charges and you refused the test, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device to be able to drive.

The penalties for refusing the first BAC test are suspension of your driver’s license for one year, unless an accident was involved. If there was a serious accident involved, then your suspension will last for two years. If someone died in the accident and you refused the test, your suspension will last for five years. For a second refusal, the suspension of your driver’s license lasts for two years. The penalties can increase, just like in a first-time refusal, depending on the situation.

Can the Suspension be Challenged?

You can request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license. If you can prove that the arresting officer did not inform you of the consequences of the refusal before submitting you to a test, then the court may reinstate your license and may let you drive without an ignition interlock device. If you lose the hearing, you can still ask the court for a restricted driving permit that allows you to drive to school, work, and alcohol safety programs.

Additional Penalties for Refusal

In addition to license suspensions and ignition interlock devices, you will likely have to pay fines for your refusal. The fines can range anywhere from $350 to $1,500. If your BAC is .2% or higher than you will also have to go to jail for seven days.

Getting Help with Your DUI Charges

If you are facing DUI charges in Tennessee, it is important to have a good defense attorney on your side. Being convicted of a DUI comes with serious consequences and an experienced attorney can help you avoid or reduce those consequences. The attorneys at Burch & Lockhart have over 15 years of experience defending people fighting DUI charges. Contact them today to schedule a consultation.